EPA’s understanding of waste crime in Victoria is still developing. That’s mainly because waste criminals work around the regulatory system.

Based on what we know, waste crime can involve two groups:

  • traditional organised crime – outlaw motorcycle gangs and Melbourne’s underworld. Figures we’ve encountered have shown little fear of regulation, even after EPA sanctions have been applied
  • familial and business community organised crime – use of family and social connections or others in a sector of work to commit crime. This possibly extends to social circles or individuals associated through related business practices (e.g., demolition companies, skip bin providers etc). A very low threshold for entry exists for these types of businesses, both financially and in terms of licensing requirements.

These two groups are agile, and intelligence suggests they will rapidly adapt to evade detection and conceal illegal practices – an experience which is shared by other EPAs across Australia.

What we know

The cost of compliance (such as licensing fees and levies) can be a driver of waste crime.

For example, intelligence suggests the use of illegal landfills is likely being used as a method of avoiding landfill levies and maximising profits. 

Intelligence also indicates organised crime groups have some understanding of the waste market, enabling them to find customers for their services relatively easily.

By avoiding the proper costs of waste treatment and disposal, waste criminals offer attractive prices. Unfortunately, many people don’t recognise when a deal is ‘too good to be true’.

That’s why EPA encourages the community to ask suppliers and contractors they engage where their waste is going – and to report any suspicious operators or behaviours to EPA.

Phoenixing (see ASIC website for definition) and complex business structures are also commonly used by organised crime groups, commercial entities and small business operators to evade detection and regulation.

Sometimes, sanctions are factored into legitimate or semi-legitimate business models as an operating cost. For example, our staff have located paperwork relating to demolition businesses on abandoned sites showing that EPA fines have been built into quotes.

The full cost of these activities to the state of Victoria and economy is unknown.

About waste crime

Reviewed 20 December 2019